Anyone who has ever been in a long-term relationship will tell you that they often lose their spark. Couples find themselves doing the same things over and over again. They eat the same foods, visit the same places, make love in the same old positions and over time they put less effort into their relationship than they do into raising the kids, working and just about everything else.
It’s totally understandable – life is damn hectic! Finding time for each other can be really tricky. But couples need to think of their relationship as if it were living, breathing, growing, evolving organism. Just like a plant. Without any attention they won’t survive. They’ll simply wither and die.
Obviously, no-one wants that to happen. Break-ups are difficult, painful experiences. Instead, couples want a thriving, passionate, loving partnership. So it’s just a matter of giving it the attention it needs to make that happen. Here’s a few suggestions to give you an idea of where to start:
Find time to talk and listen to each other. Not about the kids, finances or mundane day-to-day living – that stuff saps us of our life force and our libidos. Instead, talk about things that you’re passionate about, things that worry you, and the type of things that you talk to yourself about. Share all these thoughts with your partner. This will bring you much closer if they know what you’re thinking and vice-versa.
Say “I love you” every-single-day. Verbalise how important your partner is to you. Sometimes we assume they know, but in reality, they need to hear it.
Plan to have dirty weekends away. OFTEN! If you can’t afford to go away, then organise some dirty weekends at home. Switch off the technology, get the kids taken care of, walk around the house naked, and make some time just for the two of you.
Get a bucket list together of things you’d both like to see and do. Research things together and most importantly, devise a plan to make it happen!
Go out on dates with other couples. Particularly on that you find interesting and fun. It’s incredible how much you’ll discover about your partner when your’re in good company.
Include laughter into your life on a daily basis. Watch comedies, go to see live stand up and play practical jokes on each other.
Share the load. Prepare meals together, share house-hold chores and make each others life easier.
Surprise your partner. It could be with small tokens of affection or doing something special for them like organising a night out. We all know how nice it is to receive flowers or gifts for no reason.
Join a community group. Do this together to fill your lives with purpose. It could be a sport, hobby, or interest group.
Encourage each other to have a rich and fulfilling life as an individual. If your partner is a happy and satisfied person, this will lead to less relationship problems in the long run.
Do as much as you can together. And enjoy each others company. Why? The more time you spend together, the harder it will be to live without each other. This is so important during times when you argue and when you might feel as if you need some time apart. However, missing each others company and presence will ultimately reunite you.
Never lose sight of love. Never forget why you fell in love with your partner in the first place.
We’ve grown up to believe that it’s every girl’s dream to find that special guy and have him take us somewhere romantic, drop down on one knee and pull out a beautiful diamond and ask us to be his wife. That’s what we’ve be taught through advertising, movies and old fashioned values from when we are a young child.
There’s absolutely nothing wrong with having that dream, but not every woman wants to wait until the man is ready to ask and some women don’t want to get married at all. On top of all that, saying yes to marriage is a huge commitment and with divorce rates skyrocketing, it seems that decisions are being glamorised by an amazing proposal while relationships for life aren’t being considered.
Saying yes to a proposal is something that should be really thought about. Do you want to marry this person, or are you just after the label of being married or the stability of a marriage? Could you spend your whole life with this person and is the relationship ready to move into marriage territory?
Saying no to a proposal is tricky. You feel like you’re going to break your partners heart, but it’s important to explain to them why you’re saying no instead of a blunt rejection. There may be a number of reasons that you feel you can’t say yes to this proposal. You may not be ready for marriage, you may not want to get married, or you may not feel the same way about the person asking you.
It’s better to say no to a proposal than to lead your partner on. One of the important things about saying no is letting them know why you’re saying no, especially if it’s not to do with them as a person. It can be very easy for a relationship to go south after rejecting a proposal, so it’s important that the asker understands why you’re saying no. If it’s because you don’t want to marry them as a person, they need to know that and you can both assess the relationship and where each of you is going. If it’s because you’re not ready, or you don’t want to be married but still want to stay with the person, let them know this.
Saying no to a proposal is heartbreaking, not just to the one who is asking, but for the person saying no – knowing that you are going to very much upset your partner is traumatising. What both of you want in life is an important discussion that needs to be had as the relationship progresses so that you can both let the other person know how you feel about important topics such as marriage.
Communication is key in a relationship, even when it comes to something that you want to be a surprise, like a proposal. Wouldn’t you rather ask at a time that you know is right and get a yes than ask at the time you think is right and get a no?
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Marvin Gaye and Chris Isaak exist for a reason: the bedroom. Whether you religiously press play before you jump into bed, or have never reached for a sexy soundtrack, listening to good music before, during, or after sex can be fantastic.
- It gets you in the mood
Instead of wondering who’s going to make the first move or whether your partner is in the mood tonight, putting some music on can act as a signal which takes the guesswork out of it. A lovers’ code, if you will. Not only this, but once you know your partner’s keen, the right tunes can help get you a little tingly too.
- You can keep the beat
Have you ever been mid-rhythm, completely lost in the moment, only for things to come to a halt because of a frustrating loss of momentum? It could be an awkward slip, a phone call, an unsubtle adjustment, but for whatever reason, you both lost your groove and need quick repositioning/restart. Music isn’t going to stop the interruptions, but it will help you find a beat and get back into it faster than you can say ‘libido.’
- It can hide the awkward sounds
Sex sounds are inevitable. There are a lot, from creaky beds and squeaky springs to groans and body fluid squelches. You don’t want to cover up all of them, but you’ll probably feel more comfortable about the involuntary body sounds if there’s music on to help hide them. Plus, you’ll feel more relaxed and less self-conscious about making them in the first place if you’re lost in the moment with Frank Ocean crooning out of a speaker next to you.
- It mixes things up
If you’ve been with the same partner a while, there’s nothing worse than sex feeling like a chore, and for it to be the same every time it does (eventually) happen. Music can be a simple way to change things up a little, with a different sensory experience happening. Maybe you went to a gig for an early date so you put on that album. It doesn’t matter what the music is, as long as it’s different to what you’ve been doing the past 1/4/10/30 years.
- It can break the ice
On the opposite end of the ‘mixing things up’ scale is breaking the ice. For a first encounter, self-consciousness can be high and nerves can be running wild. The right music can help you both relax, and if things are looking a bit shaky, can work as a conversation starter. There could be a common interest there, it could bring up an old story, and if you like their choice of tune, could give some assurance they’re normal.
- It heightens sensations
A study from McGill University found that when we listen to music, we release dopamine – the “feel good” chemical. So put that together with sex, and there are a lot of pretty “feel goods” out there. Science doesn’t lie.
Raise your hand if you’re a single lady! Being single has never been better. You can be selfish, spend unlimited time your friends, less time grooming and more time in comfy clothes. Sounds good right? We’re not going to lie; there are some definite perks, but at the end of the day (and don’t deny it) we are all looking for one thing – love. As humans we are biologically programmed to find a mate and there is no shame to say we are searching for that special someone, so why are people losing their ability to fall in love? With people continuing to steer clear of traditional relationships and preferring to remain unattached, maybe its time that we start to take a long hard look at ourselves.
- Instant gratification
As our world becomes increasingly digitalised every wish is now our command. Need directions to that new café, click! How about buying those shoes you found online, click! With everything at our fingertips we have developed a society that craves instant gratification. However love isn’t something that just happens, it takes time. It is a feeling that spans a lifetime and no app or instantaneous decision can help create or facilitate love. Step away from the computer and look up from your phone and start enjoying the journey towards finding someone you love.
- We have become increasingly egocentric
Ever-heard Carly Simon’s infamous, “You’re So Vain?” Well unless you’ve been living under a rock, the lyrics focus on a self-absorbed lover and the damaging effect his manner has on the relationship. When we are in a relationship, we are a part of a team (even if it is a very small one!) and it is our job to ensure that everyone feels included. It is natural for your wants and needs to be a priority however the issue arises when your self-interest becomes all-consuming and consequently your partners needs are overlooked. We all like things done when and how we want, but a big factor to ensure you both feel appreciated is compromise. If you continually think about yourself and only partake in activities that interest you, your partner will end up board, feel unwanted and ultimately leave. You never know, devoting your time and efforts towards that special someone might just strengthen your relationship and take it to another level.
- Chasing perfection and the unattainable dream
As wonderful as those Disney movies we watched as children were, they are not realistic. Unlike Cinderella, one fabulous night on the town will not necessary offer up your future husband. And to break your heart again, all those rom-coms aren’t doing you any good either. Brad Pitt, Channing Tatum and Ryan Gosling are all one in a million and even they aren’t perfect. No matter what your expectations are, nobody will ever meet every one of them. Again we come back to compromise. They may not be a Greek god, or rolling in doe but if you look past that, you may find that they’ll impress you in hundreds of other ways.
- Having too much choice and dating for the sake of dating
Since dating has become more acceptable within our society, the more pressure we are putting on ourselves to be involved. But just because everyone else is doing it, doesn’t mean you have to as well. As well as this, having too much fun in the bedroom could also hinder your future love life. It makes finding someone to love even more difficult and at the end of the day, if your not invested you are just wasting precious time. Finding your sole mate is not a challenge or a game, ever heard of ‘less is more’? Well this is when it applies. Although it may be exciting at the time, having an excessive amount of partners makes sex and dating a sport rather than an intimate experience.
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Professor David Perrett of the University of St Andrews, has confirmed the women have a tendancy to choose partners who resemble their fathers, while men will also pick women who look like their mothers.
It seems that characteristics of our parents’ faces are imprinted in our minds from a young age, and these features go on to influence who we find attractive in later life.
Professor Perrett’s large-scale survey found that by far most participants had partners with the same hair and eye colour combination as their opposite sex parent. In other words, if a woman has a blonde, blue-eyed father, her partner is very likely to be blonde and blue-eyed as well.
But it’s not just the colouring that we try and match in our partners. Facial features play a huge part in our attractiveness towards others. A further study in Hungary compared photos of married couples with photos of their parents at a similar age. The study found there was a distinct resemblance between the two generations.
While we might be too scared to look at our own families to see if this is in fact true, Professor Perrett says Angelina Jolie and Brad Pitt are a prime example of a woman choosing someone who looks like their father.
A young Brad Pitt does appear to look very similar to Angelina’s father Jon Voight.
But don’t be too frightened. Professor Perrett claims it all stems from the good relationships we had with our parents as children and simply wanting to replicate that experience in our adult relationships.
So what do you think? Is your own example true?
The relationship was no longer serving the needs of your partner and they have ended their commitment to you. It may have been your decision, or it may have been your decision disguised as their decision. Perhaps you were constantly checking his phone and one day, he flew into a rage about it and broke up with you. Everybody wants to know what happened.
The short version, just at the end. You tell people you checked his phone once or twice because you had a sneaking suspicion he was texting a woman from work. And he was, except that it was about work and he broke up with you. Out of nowhere.
The story gains momentum, gets repeated, it was never your fault. Before you know it, you are discussing what kind of person would break up so suddenly? You reach for the DSM-V manual and begin searching for an explanation about his behavior. Could it have been a personality disorder?
There are so many lovely disorders to choose from. Life-long disorders your ex will never recover from. Disorders which doomed your relationship from the start and will prevent them ever meeting anyone else. Look at Narcissistic Personality Disorder. One of the requirements is an inability to maintain long-term relationships, which your ex just demonstrated. If only your ex would get help with a therapist or psychoactive drug, maybe it would work. Someone needs to tell them there is help out there!
You write an email offering your ex some advice. “I have come to realise it wasn’t you that ended the relationship, but the patterns of grandiose thinking, sense of entitlement and lack of empathy characteristic of your narcissistic personality disorder. I’m here to help. Call me.”
They don’t call you. Who wouldn’t want to overcome a life-long disease? A narcissist, that’s who! You tell everyone, especially your mutual friends, your ex is a ticking bomb just walking around un-diagnosed. What about an intervention with all our mutual friends? Let’s start a campaign. Would crowd-funding be out of the question? We could raise money for ten sessions and a firm diagnosis.
You read the list of criteria again for narcissism. “Believes that he or she is special and unique” is one of them. Then you realise you feel like that, as well. You look for a less relatable offense. “Exaggerates achievements and talents.” He certainly did that. You are also guilty of this. “Excessively attuned to reactions of others, but only if perceived as relevant to self.” This is getting tricky, because you worry what people think of you all the time.
You successfully diagnose yourself with Narcissistic Personality Disorder. Wait, it says that narcissists never see themselves this way and are resistant to treatment. You search around for another personality disorder to diagnose yourself with. Now you are kind of depressed but extremely well researched about this. Meanwhile, he has a new girlfriend. You stop researching what your issues might be and go back on the offensive.
His new girlfriend has no idea what’s in her future. Maybe you should warn her via a Facebook message. You will generously explain her current boyfriend is a pathological narcissist, which is hard to spot. It’s all about early detection and she is going to be so grateful. You just want her to be safe. To have a happy life. You notice there are baby photos on her Facebook page. In the time you have polished your diagnostic skills, they have had a child together. The child is so unaware.
When people ask you if you have a boyfriend, you say you are not ready. You are recovering from an abusive ex. That gets their attention. He was comorbid with borderline/narcissistic personality disorder on the autism spectrum. It’s rare, but luckily you caught it in time.
You don’t get out much. People speak to you and you hear clusters. These are subset patterns of behavior which lurk under criteria. You wonder if you should see a therapist. You do. You ask the therapist if they think you have a personality disorder and they tell you no. It’s a relief. You get an ice-cream on the way home and eat it in the car. It’s been years since you ate ice-cream in the car, watching people stroll by. It’s nice. It’s a nice feeling. Your therapist said underneath the disorder, under the criteria, under the clusters there is something else. She said that’s where you are. That’s where you can live.
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I’m sure we’d all save ourselves a lot of arguments if women just understood men a little more and vice-a-versa. Seriously, the opposite sex can be so frustrating! What we need to remember is that men don’t think or behave like women, and women tend not to think or behave like men. Maybe that’s the root cause of the frustration.
I can think of a couple of examples of this and one in particular relates to blokes and health care. Any woman who has ever tried to get a man to see a doctor will probably understand exactly what I mean. What’s more, the matter gets even more complicated if the medical issue relates to their ‘manhood’. Sorry guys, but you know it’s true.
As a result of men dodging the GP, they generally have a life span less than that of women. The proof is right there in front of us – in nursing homes filled with widowed or single ladies. This is directly related to the fact that women seek health care when they need it. Men, on the other hand, are a bit lax in this area.
Interestingly, however, women can – and do –take a mans lack of effort to seek medical advice personally. This is especially true if the man is a partner or lover. Why women do this all boils down to a mans behavioural display of respect and worth. Not quite sure what I’m on about? Here, I’ll give you an example.
A woman went to the doctor and found out that she’d contracted an STI, so she rang her lover and told him. They’d been in a relationship for quite a while, but it was pretty rocky. Their feelings were strong and there was a lot of chemistry between them, so the only solution was a friends with benefits arrangement every now and then.
Instead of being concerned for her welfare or apologetic for this unfortunate matter, initially he point blank refused to admit that he could have passed it along. After some time he calmed down about it and told her that he’d had it sorted. Yet, a week or two later she found out the hard way that he hadn’t.
The result of behaviour
This easily fixed medical problem became a relationship issue of trust and respect. After constant nagging she felt like he didn’t care about her or have any respect for her because it didn’t happen just once, but several times over the years. So out of sheer frustration, hurt and disappointment, her only way to respond in the end was to cut ties with him.
Said man was totally perplexed by what was happening. He was clueless that she felt disrespected or deceived. It certainly wasn’t his intention. In his head he thought: “So I didn’t make an appointment. Far out woman, what’s the big deal?” Yet the big deal was that his behaviour basically showed her that he didn’t care enough about her to be honest with her or care about her needs.
Now, this isn’t an isolated case. I know several men who will wait until the nagging, not the medical issue, becomes unbearable before they see a doctor. Yes, it’s frustrating as all hell and women don’t understand why men do it.
One thing I do know for sure: they don’t do it to intentionally or to infuriate the women in their lives. In fact, men don’t realise that some of their medical problems affect their women so greatly. Snoring is another prime example. Most men will put off that appointment until they can’t take anymore nagging, she threatens to end their relationship, or she does end it.
So what’s a girl to do?
Nagging isn’t the answer, ladies. If your man has a medical issue that needs addressing and in which he keeps putting off, you have two options. Firstly, you can make an appointment yourself and drag the man along. Don’t wait for them to do it because that could take months or even years – and by then you will be going stir crazy! They may put up a bit of resistance along the way, but if you’ve been struggling with the medical issue they are avoiding, it’s well worth the effort.
Option two is to do what the lady in the example did; she adjusted her behaviour in response to his. In this case, she stopped seeing him. So if it’s his snoring that is driving you bonkers, it may mean sleeping in a spare room or sending him to the lounge until you have proof that he’s made an attempt to fix it.
I know this may sound harsh, but we’re talking about one of the biggest battle of the sexes here. The key thing to remember is that actions do speak louder than words. If your man is avoiding the doctor and the medical issue is affecting you then act, don’t nag.
Trust me, either option will be a viable solution and will save you the constant hassle of nagging. Plus, it will get his medical issue sorted a heck of a lot faster and could add a few years to his life. By the way, one last word of advice here: you won’t be thanked for helping him seek medical help, so don’t expect gratitude. If anything, he will think he’s doing you a favour. Ahhh, men. No wonder they are so frustrating!
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One of life’s best natural highs is the thrill, passion and excitement of having a new partner. The conversation is endless, the connection you both feel is intense and the sex… Well let’s be totally honest, it’s hotter than hell! So, if you could reignite that honeymoon spark with your long term partner, why wouldn’t you do it?
Now, according to Graeme Sudholtz, a former Aussie farmer turned relationship and sex therapist and co-owner of Oztantra, “As you get older sex goes from a V8 automatic to a 4 speed manual, but it gets better!” His charming and equally skilled partner in life and in business, Annette Baulch, smiled and nodded in agreement.
I recently had the opportunity and privilege to sit down with this knowledgeable couple of holistic therapists to discuss love, life, relationships and of course sex. It was an entertaining and eye opening half hour, which left me wanting to book an appointment to go back for more!
They offer individual sessions, couples therapy and retreats, Skype appointments and more. Teaching individuals and couples about their sexuality, how to improve quality and quantity in their sex life, how to reignite the intimacy and connection in relationships and having longer lasting sex, are just a few of the topics we discussed. If you want more from your sex life and relationship, I’d highly recommend these two very down to earth, life and fun loving professionals.
They’re relaxed natures and ease in discussing relationships and sex would make even the coyest of people comfortable and they were kind enough to offer SHESAID tips on any upcoming relationship or sex related articles. Tips from the sexperts guys… Thank you Oztantra!
So, now you know where our info is coming from, lets get into Annette’s top 10 tips for reigniting that honeymoon spark:
1. Remember how to feel – The most common reason relationships go stale is that we shut down emotionally from each other. Make your feelings ok, remembering if you can’t feel yourself, you wont feel someone else.
2. Feeling mistakes – Don’t assume that the man is not feeling just because he may not talk about them or uses different language in talking about it. Men do feel, they just have less permission to show it. And women, don’t assume you ARE, check that you’re actually feeling your feelings in your body rather than thinking your feelings.
3. Be willing to be vulnerable – Being vulnerable is how we are able to connect with another and invite our partner into our world, which can be scary! Consequences of not doing this will ultimately lead to the loss of the relationship. Actively choosing to go there is far less scary.
4. Sleep together naked – Our skin is the largest organ in the body and is longing to be nurtured. As adults we are often touch-hungry, especially for touch that has no agenda to it. Relax and snuggle.
5. Honour yourself – We don’t realise how much we dampen our spirit by the hundreds of negative judgments we make about ourselves. Offer honest appreciation daily.
6. Bring love back into sex – Sex becomes boring and hard work when we let love run out and start performing instead. In sex, seek to connect rather than stimulate. Go slowly, connect eyes and breathe.
7. See each other clearly – Take the time to really listen to what they are saying (like you used to do) and get to know a whole new person.
8. Remove your exits – Long-term relationships can get leaky, where we drain energy away from the relationship. This can result in the ‘invisible divorce’. Too much TV, work, talking with friends, focusing on the kids, porn – all of these factors can negatively effect our relationships.
9. Plan a sex date – Set up a regular time to be sexual. Set the date and time (not late at night). You have other essential appointments, why not make sex one of them? Send texts in the lead-up. Ask your partner what they want, enjoy it with them if it feels ok for you. Vary it so you both get to share.
10. Spend quality time on your own – Sometimes couples can get enmeshed and lose the sense of a unique identity, which is what attracted you in the first place. It is healthy to have some time out on your own now and again.
If you want that honeymoon spark back or would like to find out more, speak to Annette and Graeme from Oztantra. Plus, we will have plenty more Oztantra tips and information coming up on SHESAID.
Image via oztantra.com
Couples remain together for many reasons, but if you’re only hanging in there for the sake of the kids, you both need to rethink what you’re doing. I know firsthand just how difficult that decision can be because so many other factors come into play. You may worry if you’ll cope emotionally, physically or financially and if you’ve got what it takes to be a single parent. It is a really tough choice, especially when you have kids.
You may also wonder if the relationship is worth saving. If that’s the case then a brief separation may be all that’s needed. You’d be surprised how miraculous a little time apart can be for highly stressed relationships. Will this effect the kids? Absolutely, however if you work together you may find that brief time apart will actually save your family.
Then there are other couples who have tried everything to stay together. Yet, they know deep in their hearts that their relationship really is over. This is when people remain together specifically for the sake of the kids – and while it’s honorable, they may actually be doing more harm than good.
For one, they need to consider role modeling. By staying together in a loveless or unhappy relationship parents teach their children to do likewise. Therefore, it’s highly likely that their children will also endure unhappy or bad relationships as adults. Instead, it’s much more effective to teach them that separation is okay and that some families function better that way.
Another positive, which takes place after a separation, is that happy people experience far more emotional growth. The parents will find they begin to excel in their lives, whether it be further education, work, or even going on to have a far more happy relationship. This too encourages the children of the separation to move forward.
Health and well being may also improve due to less stress within a household. Regardless of whether a couple argues or not, stone cold silence is just as damaging. In these cases the tension is thick and children aren’t stupid. They know something isn’t right. It’s up to the parents to correct their environment and for some this means a split is essential.
Resentment is yet another factor to consider. People who experience this can begin to resent their partner or even their children. This occurs when they feel trapped in their situation. However, they aren’t trapped and in most cases enduring an unhappy relationship is their choice. The children certainly aren’t responsible for their misery and neither is their partner. This is despite reasons why a relationship sours.
So in closing, separation is a very big decision but unhappy parents need to consider all their options. They just might recognise that while there will be negatives, separation may actually be a better option for everyone. The key thing to remember is that kids are resilient and adjust to new situations, so it’s often the parents who’ll find the separation more difficult.
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Most of us have a mobile or cell phone at our disposal pretty much 24/7. So when we’re arguing with others regardless of who they are, it can be really tempting to carry it on via text.
Unlike verbal or face-to-face communication, digital communication is in a class of its own. There are real dangers of communicating using this medium particularly when the conversation is heated.
People need to be aware that although texts are super handy, there are also downsides to communicating this way particularly during an argument. Firstly, tech issues such as spellcheck can interject into a conversation. This can add fuel to the fire. Unfortunately the person on the other end won’t be aware the text they received was corrected. They will take it at face value and this can prolong an argument.
Then there’s the premature send. I’m sure most of us would have accidentally done this and it’s caused no harm. However when arguing via text we might rethink our words before sending. If this opportunity is missed we may send words we’d possibly delete before sending.
Additionally some texts may never get to a recipient, a phone may go flat or be turned off. This too can spark a texting war due to the lack of response. We can’t know for certain what’s happening so presumptions often heighten or even cause arguments. Therefore, we need to keep all this in mind which isn’t easy in the heat of the moment.
Another danger of arguing via text is the way we communicate. Although we may think our text messages are similar to the way we communicate in other ways, we need to be aware that isn’t always the case. For one text messages can easily be misinterpreted especially during an argument. This occurs because people search for the tone of the text.
This is done instinctively in traditional ways of communicating and while this is relatively straight forward, correctly identifying the tone of a text can leave plenty of room for error. For example, even a simple word like ok can mean various things when we add tone to our voice. Therefore when we argue via text the things we say can often be misconstrued. This is when things can get ugly!
There’s also the fact that people say things in texts which they wouldn’t say during other forms of communication. This is because they can’t physically see or hear a reaction. Someone can emotionally destroy another person with their words without really understanding how they’ve effected them.
Of course some idea can be gained by a response but it’s much easier to identify hurt feelings face-to-face or verbally. This is why some texts can get vicious or threatening. Without a clue to how the other person is reacting things can get quite server quite quickly.
So regardless of who is on the other end of a texting argument or whether a lack of response starts the initial fury, people should really refrain from arguing via text. While it maybe preferable to text someone a negative comment, it should be done face-to-face or via a phone call. That way there is less room for the downsides of digital technology to interject. Plus you’ll likely find the argument will be resolved much quicker.
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You’ve been dreaming of your happily ever after ever since you watched Cinderella as a little girl, but despite your marriage, it always seems just out of reach. From sex to household dramas, there always seems to be something standing in the way of you and your successful marriage.
That’s why we’ve spoken to a happy couple, who have successfully fended off the villains of their story for decades, proving that real-life fairytales really are possible.
Karen and Rick have been married for 30 years and have had their fair share of marriage related dramas, but this Melbourne based couple have found the perfect balance to keep them both happy and as loved up as they were when they first said their vows.
All couples fight and that’s okay
Every relationship has some tension, whether your husband is too lazy to do the dishes or he splurged on a pricey car when you’re supposed to be saving for your dream vacation, fights are inevitable.
“The saying ‘you fight like a married couple’ had to come from somewhere right? We fight all the time, probably more than I care to admit, but we always kiss and make up. The fight usually helps to relieve pent up tension too” – says Karen.
Not fighting will inevitably turn you into a ticking time bomb; you need to be able to put your issues on the table so you can resolve them – otherwise you will eventually blow.
Compromise is key
The art of compromising is essential for any successful marriage, without it every decision is likely to be one-sided, or one of you will be consistently unhappy.
“He wants to go to Las Vegas I want to go to New York so we compromise and go to New Orleans. We’ve had times where one of us got our way and the other one had to suffer but it sucks the enjoyment out for both of us. If we went to New York and he didn’t want to go, I wouldn’t enjoy myself because he wouldn’t enjoy himself.”
Talk it out
All marriages are built on communication; a healthy couple talks things over and makes joint decisions. If you’re unhappy or something’s bothering you – you need to talk about it. Likewise, it never hurts to ask him how his day was or to be asked how your day was.
“He likes to pretend he isn’t listening to me, but I know he is. He knows how I tick because of it and me him.”
Good communication can help prevent meaningless arguments and show how much you care for each other.
Have common interests
Whatever it is you enjoy doing, share it with him and take an interest in his hobbies too. You’ve made the decision to embark on a life together, yes you need to do your own thing sometimes, but you always need to be able to enjoy each other’s company and let each other in.
“Rick and I, we cook together. Rick never used to be able to but I’ve started teaching him. On the weekend we experiment with new recipes, then we sit back eat and enjoy a cup of wine – or two!”
Your husband is supposed to be one of your closest friends, you need to make the most of each other’s company and be constantly looking for new ways to have fun. A stale relationship can get dry very quickly. Constantly looking for new ways to spend time together is a sure way to ensure neither of you gets bored.
Keeping your marriage alive and kicking is a lot easier than you may have thought.
Image via www.bodyandsoul.com.au
Are you an over-functioning person? The type who can leap tall buildings in a single bound? Do you have a to-do list the size of your arm and appear to effortlessly complete the lot? And finally, are you tired of nagging to get things done only to end up doing it all yourself?
If any of this sounds familiar then you need to be aware that you aren’t in an equal partnership. Essentially, you’ve become the ‘parent’ or ‘caretaker’ and your significant other has become the ‘child’. It’s not exactly a turn on and it’s probably not what you want, either. Somewhere along your journey together, however, these are the roles you’ve created.
Unfortunately, many over-functioning individuals try tirelessly to even out this irritating equation. They have conversation after conversation about getting more help around the house and getting their slacker off their butt and into action – and I’d bet good money that things generally pick up for a while but soon slide back to a regular routine. The over-functioning partner will continue their behvaiour and as a result the slacker will ultimately continue theirs. It’s a vicious cycle.
What’s happening is that the over-functioning partner wants the other persons behaviour to change. That’s understandable, but what they don’t realise is that their partner’s behaviour is a response to their own. Regardless of the endless nagging, yelling, screaming, arguing or even threatening to leave, no-one can change what another person does, or in this case doesn’t do.
There is, however, one way things can change to even the equation and it’s easier than many over-functioning people think. There’s no nagging involved, no fighting, no nothing. In fact, all that needs to happen is the over-functioning partner needs to look objectively at what they have done to create their scenario.
For example, were they happy doing everything for their partner when the relationship began? Did they slide into this role as a response to some event? Did they get tired of waiting for their partner to do things and just decided it was easier to do it themselves? Or perhaps they like to have things done their own way and this is why the other person let them take over.
Whatever the situation, at some point these roles became established. Therefore, understanding how things developed into a routine is essential in changing the scenario. Now, this can work with any type of situation where changes need to occur. It’s incredible how people want change but they don’t change their behaviour. They just keep plodding along day after day and the change never happens. It’s often spoken of and argued about, but nothing can occur until there’s some type of behaviour shift.
So in this case where you have one partner over-functioning and the other under-functioning, someone needs to make it happen. If the over-functioning partner seriously wants more equality, they need to change their own actions and behaviours in a way that is more conducive to what they want. This may mean leaving jobs unfinished for the other to do, or creating a roster and only doing what’s on their own list.
In actual fact, this will be more difficult for the over-functioning person. While they have been busy doing everything, they’ve also had total control. They just might discover that control will be revoked and this is where the problem has been all along. However, if they want to get the equal partnership that many desire, then it really is the only way it can happen.
Image via familia.com.br
Most of us can say sorry to our boss when we’re running late or to a friend for not returning their call. However, it can be a difficult task to say sorry when it really counts – to your significant other. Now I’m not talking about the type of sarcastic apology that is only said to shut the other person up. Those are just counterproductive and are a sure fire way to add to the drama.
I’m talking about the type of heart-felt apology which desperately needs to be spoken when you and your partner may have been arguing – whether for hours or even days – with no solution. Obviously when this happens something’s amiss within your relationship. Most couples don’t quarrel over nothing, so there’s usually an underlying issue that seriously needs some fixing.
The problem during heated arguments, however, is that the issue at hand can get contorted with many other factors. Things like name calling, blaming, bringing up past arguments and other negative comments are often thrown back and forth. It can get pretty ugly as many of us would have experienced. Emotions are running rife and it’s incredible how nasty loving couples can be toward each other mid-argument. So understandably it’s not ideal to come out with a half-hearted apology in the midst of chaos.
What’s actually happening is that both of you are passionate about what you want from the other person or your relationship. So during an argument both of you are clearly frustrated because you aren’t being heard, understood, acknowledged or ultimately getting your needs met.
This is usually the primary reason why arguments occur in the first place. It’s a way couples resolve those issues which continue to niggle at them day after day until the problem can’t be ignored any longer. So before either of you get to that heart felt apology there needs to be some type of resolution.
This is when some people need time out to think, while others want the matter resolved immediately. Either way both of you need to stop and think objectively, place yourselves in your partners position and attempt to understand their perspective. It’s when this is achieved that arguments begin to reside and get resolved. Primarily this is when both of you need to apologize to save your relationship.
A key thing to remember is that no one is ever 100 percent in the right or wrong regardless of the situation. People’s behavior however hurtful or destructive is a reaction to events and situations. It does take two people to either make or break a relationship and this is how strong couple’s tackle the most serve problems. Essentially they learn when to back off from an argument, how resolve the issue, plan a way to move forward and admit their own faults to save their relationship.
I used to be one of those women that don’t take compliments well. I’d try making my achievements look smaller or non-existent, find excuses or even quickly change the topic and compliment the other person in return. Until I realised I wasn’t doing myself a service and I certainly wasn’t making the other person feel good about complimenting me. Learning to accept compliments was a conscious choice for me and it can be your choice, too.
Why is it so hard to accept a compliment?
- For me it had a lot to do with upbringing. I was raised to believe that it was not modest or even acceptable to boast about your accomplishments and accepting a compliment seemed very much like boasting.
- Often we’d get compliments about things that come so naturally to us that we don’t even see them as compliment-worthy. In fact, these are our strengths. These same accomplishments that we think nothing of don’t necessarily come easily to other people.
- Not being able to accept a compliment can also be a sign of low self-esteem. We don’t feel that we can possibly deserve the compliment and the person giving it to us is either just trying to be nice or delusional.
Accepting a compliments is a good thing
- It’s polite. I always feel uneasy when someone is deflecting or arguing with a compliment I’ve given and I now realise that all the people I’ve done it to must have felt the same way. The person complimenting you is doing it because they’ve seen something in you that they value. The most polite thing you can do is to appreciate them for it.
- We learn about ourselves. By listening to compliments instead of dismissing them we are learning what it is that people find valuable in us and what we have to contribute.
- It’s good for our self-esteem. Every time you acknowledge that yes, you are what people say you are and yes, you have achieved something worthy, you’re affirming your positive qualities.
How to get started
Here’s a very simple practice. When someone compliments you, just say, “Thank you”. This is probably what you’d normally start your response with anyway, so this should be easy. Then stifle your urge to continue the sentence with “but…”. You can leave it at “thank you” or you can pause and think of something positive to say like “I put a lot of thought into it” or “I’m so thrilled that it went well”. You can also put the honours back to the person giving the compliment, but without changing the subject immediately, for example, “It means a lot coming from you” or “I really appreciate it”.
Think of all the times that you’ve given compliments. How do people’s responses make you feel? Model the ones that make you feel good and exclude the rest from your repertoire.
As anything else, accepting compliments gets easier with practice. Before long you’ll start feeling great about it and never feel awkward again.
Image by PublicDomainPictures via pixabay.com
Are you staying in a loveless and unhappy marriage, or worse still, a violent one because you feel like you’ve got no rights?
Domestic violence is a scourge on our society; shockingly, the vast majority of dangerous, abusive and violent behaviour which occurs in the privacy of people’s homes is committed by men against women. And with one in three Australian marriages ending in divorce, many women often feel trapped because they aren’t aware of their entitlements and the processes involved in obtaining a divorce.
Help is at hand here, ladies, thanks to leading Australian family law practitioner, Brett Hartley, a director of Brisbane’s Hartley Healy Family Law Specialists. Brett breaks down the most common divorce myths for SHESAID readers and separates fact from fiction. The family law expert has worked on some complex cases including high-profile international matters and high-wealth cases involving complex financial structure. And Hartley Healy is one of Brisbane’s leading specialised family law firms, practicing exclusively in family and de facto law.
“Even in 2015, divorce remains a taboo subject with many people not considering one until it happens,” Brett says, “And there are numerous myths that continuously pop up online.”
The 8 Most Common Divorce Myths:
- MYTH: I have been a stay-at-home mum with no income since marriage therefore I am entitled to nothing.
FACT: The Family Law Act recognises contributions you have made; it is not restricted to financial contributions. Your contributions towards domestic and household chores, having children, raising children and otherwise to the welfare of the family are all taken into account by the court. In addition, the law recognises the fact that one parent staying in the home and looking after children frees up the other parent to not only earn an income, but to advance that parent’s career. Therefore, a contribution of caring for the children and staying at home is viewed as an indirect contribution towards the other one’s accumulation of wealth.
- MYTH: My partner purchased our house before we were married therefore it will not be included in the divorce settlement.
FACT: The first step in any property settlement in family law requires a balance sheet of all assets and liabilities that exist at the current date to be taken into account. One must identify and value each and every asset and resource no matter when it was brought into the relationship. It doesn’t mean everything will be divided 50/50 in all cases and you will need to get advice from a specialist family lawyer as to your specific entitlements.
- MYTH: Superannuation is not considered during settlement.
FACT: Superannuation is always considered during any property settlement. Even though superannuation, in many cases, is not property (that is you cannot access it and spend it straight away), it is still notionally treated as property and included in the available assets for division. The law now allows for superannuation interests to be split between separating couples.
- MYTH: I have been in a de facto relationship for more than five years, but we were never married so I am not entitled to any of my partner’s property.
FACT: If you separate from a de facto relationship or from a marriage then the law regards your relationship as having started when you first started living together. Even if you are only married for a short period of time, the law will regard the commencement of cohabitation as being the starting date for looking at relevant contributions that you have both made.
- MYTH: I am in a same-sex relationship therefore family law does not apply to us.
FACT: In most states in Australia, the law is the same in relation to property settlement for a same-sex de facto couple as it would be if you were in a heterosexual marriage. As long as you can prove that you’re in a de facto relationship and certain other criteria is satisfied (such as relationship lasting for more than two years or a child being born in the relationship) then one may have an entitlement to property settlement.
- MYTH: I am already married; it’s too late to get a pre-nuptial agreement.
FACT: Under Australian law, you can still enter into an agreement (even during marriage) to divide up your assets in the event of any future separation. You do not have to have the agreement finalised before you marry. In the US, they’re referred to as “pre-nuptial agreements,” but here in Australia, family law experts refer to them as “binding financial agreements” and they can be entered into prior to, during, or at the end of a marriage or de facto relationship. A specialist family lawyer will know the best type of agreement to draft depending upon your particular circumstances.
- MYTH: Our divorce is amicable, however to get a divorce we must go to court.
FACT: In order to actually be divorced you need to lodge an Application for Divorce with the court. In most cases, you can do this without the necessity of a court appearance and it can also be done online. In order to obtain a property settlement, you don’t have to go to court and you should avoid fighting in court about property settlement if at all possible. If you and your partner come to an agreement, then that agreement can be documented, signed by you both and lodged in court and approved. In most cases, that won’t require an appearance in court at all.
- MYTH:I am considering a divorce; I should be stealthy in getting my affairs in order and hide my savings.
FACT: There is no need to do this. Sometimes, financial advisors, accountants and other lawyers say that people should, by stealth and prior to separation, accumulate as much documentation and information as they can. There is simply no need to do this as the law requires disclosure of relevant financial documents by each party prior to going to court and your family law solicitor will know what documents and information to ask for and how to get it.
I used to run a play group and it was incredible the conversations I overheard while the children played and their mums sipped coffee. One thing I vividly remember being mentioned was that many of these women would withhold sex as payment to their partners for good behaviour – this included chores and even material things that they wanted.
I suspect a lot of women with long-term partners would be uncomfortable admitting this. However, it was quite astounding what these women would divulge to each other. Being home alone most of the day with their toddlers and children (all under the age of ten) it was clear that they didn’t get a lot of outside contact; so when they did get together, nothing was off limits!
Very interestingly, a decade later, I discovered the women who didn’t use sex to their advantage actually ended up getting divorced or separated. While their relationships had dissolved, the ladies who had used sex as a reward or tool had somehow managed to remain with their partners.
Being one of the divorced I was amazed at how this behaviour was the one which seemed to stand out as a determining factor in the longevity of long-term relationships. I assumed it would have been the other way around. Clearly, my mind boggled and I was a bit confused. Did the men realise what their partners were doing?
One thing I remember thinking at the time when overhearing these conversations was: “Isn’t this just a form of prostitution? Why would a women want to get paid for sex if she wasn’t in that industry?” I’m certain these women would have looked down on other women who were paid for sex, yet they happily went about their everyday lives in a similar fashion!
An Expert Opinion
Where did my Libido Go, written by Australian sex therapist Dr Rosie King, explains that women’s sexual desire is dependent upon dopamine and adrenalin, while men are reliant on Testosterone. In women, sexual desire can fizzle out anywhere between six to eighteen months into a new relationship, whereas men’s sexual desire remains more consistent.
The good doctor went on to recommend that women with a low libido should find some way to increase their willingness to have sex with long-term partners. This includes financial gain and getting other needs met. I’m sure Dr Rosie would have applauded these women who I overheard having sex to get lawns mowed, gutters cleaned, houses vacuumed, kids looked after and even home renovations completed!
Dr Rosie believes this is far more effective in maintaining a long-term relationship than having “mercy sex” – this is when women put out to shut their partners up and keep them from having sex elsewhere. She went on to say that this doesn’t give anything back to the women who would rather not have sex. It’s simply another chore to put on their “to-do” list, along with the shopping, cooking, working and caring for kids.
I’m not sure I agree with Dr Rosie or the women at the playgroup. What the hell’s happened to having sex with your long-term partner because you love them and want to have sex with them? I understand that low libido in women is a massive problem, but surely there are better incentives than searching for alternative motives such as household chores?
If women need to fantasise about their new kitchen or freshly mowed lawns while being intimate with their partner, clearly there are some sex lives that could do with a bit of a shake up! Plus, it makes me wonder what message this is sending – women want to be known as sexual beings, don’t they? Yet if there are so many women out there in long-term relationships having sex for payment, it doesn’t really do much for the overall cause. Instead, it screams women don’t want sex so you’ll have to pay us to do it; particularly those in long-term relationships who want it to survive.
No wonder men continue to say they can’t figure women out! So many women look down on others who get paid cash for sex, yet if it’s just one man whose paying and the women’s in a long-term relationship it’s okay. We live in such a confusing world, don’t we?
Image via honnest.jp
True confessions: I adore vampire-themed fantasy romances/horrors such as The Twilight Saga and True Blood; but I’ve got no time, energy or love for emotional vampires in real life.
Have you experienced the hell on earth that is spending time with an emotional-vampire “friend” and/or lover? These people are aptly named because they’re negative, exhausting and emotion-sucking drama queens who will sap your time, energy and spirit if you let them – abort, abort, abort!
Personally, I think life is way too short to spend time with people who constantly deplete your serenity and use your strength to bolster their fragile egos. Emotional vampires need constant attention and flit from one high drama or conflict to the next; indeed they seem to thrive on it, while you will be left feeling like they sucked out your soul.
In a healthy, long-standing friendship and/or relationship, you each take turns acting as caregivers, when needed. But with emotional vampires it is a very one-sided affair; they’re only interested in what they can take from you, never what they can give; indeed your thoughts, wants and feelings will be so irrelevant to them, it’s as though they don’t exist.
And when you inevitably find yourself emotionally exhausted and drained by your soul-sucking “friend”, having grown well tired of being their 24/7 mentoring/advice/counselling service and their extreme lack of empathy, they will most likely viciously turn on you if you dare to be emotionally honest about how you feel. And that’s OK; you’ve got to get off that emotional rollercoaster, girlfriend! And you’ve got to choose your friends very wisely, for what you accept you become.
It’s a sentiment echoed by a clinical psychologist I spoke to, who wishes to remain anonymous, who has more than 30 years experience in couples and relationships counselling. So, what are the warning signs that you’ve encountered an emotional vampire? “If, after meeting up with or chatting on the phone with a friend, you are left feeling hurt, angry, resentful or emotionally battered, there may be a problem with this friendship,” the psychologist says. “If the negative feelings occur every or most times you catch up with this particular person, ask yourself why you feel this way.”
And this is key: if you are unlucky enough to come across a narcissist; victim and/or venomous, controlling emotional vampire – for they can take many forms – who’s started to take over your life, leaving you feeling overwhelmed, negative and burdened, it’s definitely time to cut all ties with this person, if you can. Why? Demanding, constantly negative and self-absorbed people will only ultimately cause you much more pain than pleasure and it’s in your best interests, indeed an act of good self-care, to let them go.
I stupidly let an emotional vampire into my life recently – an old work acquaintance with whom I’d never really clicked, who’d moved to my area. This woman would constantly burden me with daily problems and dramas. And when I started to feel sick in the pit of my stomach every time she sent me epic, daily texts asking for my advice, I knew it was time to end the “friendship” and I use the term very loosely.
Sure, I wanted to help her, but when her constant, toxic tales of woe and endless conflicts started to overwhelm me, to the point I was anxious every time I got a text in case it was from her, and counselling her was starting to eat away at both my time and my sanity, I finally gave her some gentle emotional honesty which was enough to end our relationship.
And you know what? I feel nothing but sweet, sweet relief and was even more grateful for the amazing, positive people in my life, including many long-term friends with whom I share the caregiver role. So, what is the best course of action when encountering an emotional vampire, according to my clinical psychologist contact?
“We all need to take responsibility for our own emotional well-being,” she advises, “So, if you feel that you’ve helped your friend as much as you can, and interactions with her leave you feeling drained and negative, you need to take steps to care for yourself.
“Your friend probably isn’t aware of the impact they are having on you. Try explaining that while you want to help them if possible, constantly dealing with their crises and problems and providing advice is a downer for you. Explain that for the friendship to continue, you want to keep things positive and light-hearted for at least a major part of the time you spend together. Be prepared though; your friend might decide it’s easier to move on than to change.”
For me, the final nail in the coffin in the “friendship” with my emotional vampire, was that I found I couldn’t do something as fundamental and basic as express emotional honesty in the relationship. For emotional vampires hate being challenged or questioned; so fragile are their egos and self-esteem, your feelings will only be seen as a threat. Hilariously and paradoxically, they may accuse you of being a bad person, when not five seconds before they were asking, yet again, for your life advice. Female friendships can be maddening complex; but unless there’s emotional honesty and a reciprocal caregiver role; aint nobody got time for that, girlfriend!
Brisbane communication and social media consultant Mel Kettle, 45, (pictured) has also encountered her fair share of emotional vampires – indeed she thinks it’s a common affliction among her closest female friends.
“If there are people out there who have made it to their mid-40s without an emotion-sucking friend, they are doing well!” she says. “And I use the word ‘friend’ loosely. I have had a few over the years and each time it has taken me a while to realise what they are. These women have all seemed lovely when I met them: intelligent, interesting, friendly and they each made an effort to spend time with me and to get to know me in the early stages of the friendship.
“There have probably been three over the years who I would say are real emotion-sucking ‘friends’. All have shared the same behaviours and characteristics: seeking my advice over and over (often on the same issues); needing validation for many of the decisions in their lives (some minor, however many that needed professional psychological or psychiatric guidance that I was not at all equipped to give); constantly negative about much of what is going on in their lives (and making no effort to change it, just constant whinging and complaining); expecting me to be available to meet or talk and to solve all their problems and rarely asking about my life, or if they do, showing little or no interest.
“After thinking about this a lot, I realised that none of these women had any empathy. After catching up with them, I always felt emotionally and usually physically exhausted.”
To counter this, as an act of self-care and self-preservation, Mel says she simply stopped making herself available to the emotional vampires – one of whom quickly latched on to someone else. “It was a hard decision to make, but once I did I felt a huge sense of relief,” she says. “Friendship needs to be two-way. Sure, there are times when you need more of your friends then they need from you, but it’s a cycle. Yes, I’m there for friends in need, however I expect them to be there for me too.
“A huge turning point for a couple of friendships was when my parents died. This experience really showed the true colours of a lot of people. One emotion-sucking friendship ended when this ‘friend’ barely offered me condolences and then spent 30 minutes on the phone telling me about all the problems she was having with a couple of her family members, including her mother; mine hadn’t even been dead for a week! That was the straw that broke that camel’s back for me!”
And like me, Mel says the older she gets, the less likely she will put up with other people’s emotional fuckwittage. “I have far less tolerance for selfishness and the rubbish that so many people think is important. I also have no time for constant negativity, people who are ungrateful for what they have, and glass-half-empty people,” she says. “They are too exhausting to have in your life when you are not that way!”
“A good friend of mine had a few friendships that were very one-sided – she made all the effort. She basically called them out and said that she would give them one more chance and if they weren’t prepared to make an effort to maintain the friendship then as far as she was concerned it was over. All were shocked, only one was apologetic and made an effort, the other friendships ended.”
So, there you have it ladies: real-life examples and advice on how to combat emotional vampires – you’ve been forewarned. May none of your friendships suck!
Images via liveinthenow.com, Fast Company, Daily Mail
Few words have uglier connotations to me than “princess”; for life ain’t no fairytale and if you are desperately waiting and hoping for a white knight to rescue you, you’re just setting yourself up for misery and disappointment, sister.
Bibbidi-Bobbidi-Boo – I call bullshit. Personal power comes from a healthy self-esteem whereby you take responsibility for your life and make positive, empowering life decisions. You and you alone are responsible for your own self-care and happiness. Repeat after me: I am no one’s prize; I am nobody’s princess!
However, the princess myth and Cinderella-worship is so powerful and pervasive in modern-day culture, it’s everywhere we look: it’s rife in movies, women’s magazines, clothes, books and little girl’s fashion accessories, for starters.
And witness the public’s endless fascination with the real-life fairytale of modern-day princesses such as that of Mary Donaldson and her Danish prince and Kate Middleton (pictured at right), aka Catherine, Duchess of Cambridge and wife of Prince William, with the couple recently welcoming their second child, Charlotte, into the world.
I felt a cold stab of fear in my feminist-heart recently when my Cinderella-loving three-year-old daughter announced that she too wanted to “grow up to be a princess.” I allowed myself a small lecture to her about being in charge of her own destiny, before happily handing her her mock diamante tiara from the dress-up drawer and letting her indulge in the age-appropriate fantasy.
So, why is the princess myth so damaging to adult relationships? I turned to Brisbane psychologist Kobie Allison, 31, for her interesting insight into the issue. The psychologist/director of a private practice – which specialises in children, teens and families and acute and complex trauma – says the wish of wanting to be taken care of or “rescued” by another can stem from co-dependency.
“Co-dependency is a learned behaviour which can be detrimental to relationships as it affects an individual’s capacity to have a healthy, balanced mutually satisfying relationship,” Kobie says.
“One symptom of co-dependency is that one partner is generally the caretaker, fixer, rescuer, controller or safeguard. Thus, the partnership is built on “caretaking” instead of a love sharing. A healthy relationship helps each individual grow their self-esteem, self-confidence, sense of self-worth and self-reliance, which are all part of developing a healthy sense of self-love.”
To ensure both you and/or your daughters don’t fall prey to the princess myth, here are the psychologist’s top tips for healthy relationship behaviours.
Top five signs of an co-dependent and/or addictive relationship
- A feeling of not being able to live without the partner.
- Loss of self-control and low self-esteem: looking to partner for validation and affirmation of self-worth.
- Making fewer decisions or plans: waiting for the partner to tell you what to do.
- Rushing things, like sex or marriage, so as not to lose the partner.
- Using drugs or alcohol as coping mechanisms.
Top five signs of mature love
- Develops gradually through learning about each other.
- Sexual attraction is present, but warm affection/friendship is central.
- Characterised by calm, peacefulness, empathy, support, trust, confidence and tolerance of each other – there are no feelings of being threatened.
- Is based on reality not a princess fantasy of being “rescued.”
- Partners have high self-esteem and can make strong, independent decisions; each has a sense of self-worth with or without the partner and feels complete even without the relationship.
Top five important qualities to look for in a prospective partner
- Is not involved in other love relationships and is open to being in a relationship with you.
- Is well over heartaches and has not just recently broken up with someone else.
- Has time to devote to the relationship and is close to you geographically: in your city or state.
- Has high self-esteem; treats himself and others well, even if they are strangers.
- Is compatible with you in terms of social values and beliefs.
Images via theatlantic.com, marissabracke.com, hercampus.com
Most of us are in desperate need of some romance, but what do you do when you can’t get rid of the kids? It’s actually easier than you think. It’s as simple as having a family night in, including the kids and getting to the intimate romance once they’ve had their fun and gone to sleep. Sound too easy to be believed? Well it is…
How it’s Done
Putting a bit of romance back into your life is as simple as getting back to basics. Most of us don’t have time to breathe anymore because everything is moving way too fast. Parents are usually so busy rushing from morning ’til night that they rarely spend time on their relationship or make time for each other. Please STOP before you burn out and start prioritising romance – it’s essential for looking after the longevity of your family.
Start by putting technology in it’s place and turn it off for a night or two each month. This includes TV’s, DVD’s, tablets, computers and yes, even your mobile or cell phone which is glued to most of us 24/7. We survived long before this invention and we can all use a couple of nights of technology shut down.
Next, plan a night of family in-house, tech free entertainment. Not sure what to do? Luckily I’ve got some family friendly ideas which can easily be turned into a romantic night at home when the kids fall asleep.
When was the last time you sat around a small fire in the backyard and roasted some marshmallows? You don’t have to go camping to do this. If you don’t have room for a fire or if you live in an apartment, have a think about how you can improvise. Open the combustion heater, light a bunch of candles, or do whatever you can to get some real flames happening (without burning the house down, of course). There is something very soothing about fire and the kids will love it. Plus, after dark fire is particularly romantic. Grab a nice glass of wine, talk and spend some quality time with your lover.
Most of us in big cities don’t really see the stars on a regular basis. We live indoors and by night time we are tucked up inside. Even if it’s cold out, pick a night that’s not too cloudy and head outside. Pop on some warm clothes, throw something on the ground and as a family check out what stars you can see. The kids will love it and later when they’ve had enough, go back out there with your lover to a secluded spot and get naked under them!
The best part about getting busy is you generate a lot of body heat, so there’s no need to worry about it being cold! Just a word of warning: make it somewhere discrete. No-one really wants to catch their neighbors in the act.
Build a Fort
Kids love building and playing in forts, so why not make it dual purpose? Set up a nice family sized fort in the lounge room and have some down time with the kids. Grab a board game or make up your own and they will be sure to go to bed happy. If you have trouble putting them to sleep afterwards, however, read a bedtime story or two – this normally works a treat. Later, turn the fort into mum and dad’s secret love nest and bring out the adult games when the kids are out of the way.
These ideas are as simple as it gets, but seriously, when was the last time you switched off the box and varied the routine? Not only will the kids love it, but having fun as adults is important. It’s also essential for stress relief and helps keep your family strong.
If you have some family date night ideas of your own, we’d love to hear them in the comments below!
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It’s been said that kindness is the key to a long and successful marriage. And while its importance is indisputable, the ability to practice daily forgiveness can really be the defining factor in whether you make up or break up. So says a clinical psychologist I spoke to, who wishes to remain anonymous, and who has more than 30 years experience in couples and relationships counselling.
Of course, there are some things, like domestic violence and unfaithfulness, for example, which often can’t and shouldn’t be forgiven – definite deal breakers. It’s also important not to accept put-downs and cruel treatment – no one ever deserves that! But we’re talking here about relatively minor relationship disputes such as your husband/partner saying the wrong thing, forgetting something, being late and/or being inconsiderate and unkind at times.
After all, everyone makes mistakes, gets things wrong or says something that they later regret. So it is inevitable that our partners will do something to hurt, annoy or offend us from time-to-time. When this happens it’s totally normal and natural to get angry, but is it good to stay angry?
My psychologist contact says a big, resounding no! For prolonged anger can have significant negative impacts on our physical health and emotional well-being; the longer we feel angry the more damage is done. So, it’s vital we get over our anger as soon as possible and forgive our partner, she says.
“Whenever our partner makes a mistake, says the wrong thing or is lacking in tact and consideration, we feel resentful and angry. If we can’t forgive these slip-ups and each time hold onto the resentment and anger, we will eventually have such negative feelings towards our partner that any positive, loving emotions will be overwhelmed,” she says.
“An inability to forgive and let go of negative emotions will lead to resentment and dislike of one’s partner and could spell the end to a marriage. Conversely, being able to forgive and move on is absolutely essential to maintaining a happy marriage.”
So, how on earth do we mere mortals practise the art of forgiveness? Sometimes, the forgiving is really, really hard to do and it might take time to work through our thoughts and feelings. And, if you have a slightly overdeveloped sense of vengeance when someone really wrongs us – certainly one of my failings – it can seem impossible just to let it go and move on. However, move on we must – for the sake of our marriage.
The psychologist says it’s all about perspective, baby. “After the initial feeling of hurt and venting of our anger, it is important to step back and carefully assess how important to you this issue is. Is it something you feel very strongly about, or is it something you can talk through and let go? If it’s the latter, calmly tell your partner how you feel and why, explain why what was said was hurtful and perhaps suggest a better way or saying what he/she said or did,” she says.
“If your partner is open to this and willing to talk the issue through, try and let it go and move on. How? Ask yourself how important the issue is in the great scheme of things. Will it matter tomorrow, next week, in 10 years? If not, there’s no point in holding on to it, let it go now.”
The psychologist’s top forgiveness tips include:
- Be firm with yourself; engage in some positive self-talk, reminding yourself it’s harmful to hold onto negative emotions.
- Imagine blowing all the anger and resentment into a balloon then letting it float away.
- Remind yourself of all the things you like and love about your beloved partner. Think about great times you’ve had together, places you’ve gone and feel-good things you’ve done together.
In addition, the psychologist advises us to carefully decide if the relationship dispute we have with our partner is small and deserving of forgiveness, or actually something seriously damaging to the relationship, which you can’t overlook and need to address.
If it’s the first instance, we should forgive quickly whenever we can; forgive and forget the unimportant things. This is because forgiveness is good for our emotional well-being and the health and viability of our relationship.
So, ladies, hopefully that anger and resentment are gone by now and you can go pash/hug your husband and forgive him for his many failings, just as you’d like to be forgiven for yours. He is but a man, after all…
What do you think? Do you find forgiveness hard?
Images via Brain Body Beauty, Mamas Health, Motivational Interviewing Montreal, ter4ng.wordpress.com